Naturopathic Nutrition My Favourite Superfood!

Pictured: Spirulina in tablet and powder form (stock image).

Pictured: Spirulina in tablet and powder form (stock image).

Spirulina is my favourite superfood for many reasons, primarily because I get so much from just a few small tablets. It is absolutely loaded with well-balanced nutrients: it contains all B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Beta-carotene and Omega 3 fats – it truly is a nutritional powerhouse!

Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on earth but is a relatively new source of nutrition in western civilisation. It is a type of blue-green algae which grows in warm lakes and salt water in Africa and South America, where it has been used traditionally for millennia.

Spirulina is very easily digested as it does not have the thick cell walls that other algaes have. Its vitamins, minerals and proteins are in an almost pre-digested form, which makes them very easy to absorb. Amazingly, it contains 60% – 70% complete protein, which is almost 12 times the digestible protein of beef.

It is also one of the few plant foods to contain Vitamin B12, which makes it an ideal supplement for vegans and vegetarians.

It is excellent for strength and cardiovascular training and many athletes are jumping on the band wagon. The carbohydrate profile of Spirulina is also impressive, containing specific polysaccharides that protect the cardiovascular system, stimulate the immune system and are strongly antiviral and anti-inflammatory.

Clearly Spirulina’s health benefits range far and wide but it has also recently become popular in weight loss, decreasing appetite, improving energy, mood, mental clarity and alertness. Yowsa!

Spirulina is thought to contain every nutrient required by the human body and it has been shown that we, as a species, could live off Spirulina and water alone.

Unsurprisingly, as the global food supply dwindles, Spirulina has become tipped to be the answer to malnutrition, given its complete nutrient status and the fact that it is rapidly and easily grown locally to where it is needed.

Cultivation projects are currently underway in Asia – a great tool for development and local employment. I expect Spirulina will become increasingly important on this planet as the global population rises and land resources diminish. Once again, mama nature provides!

But before you peg it out the door to buy a lifetime’s supply, I offer a word of warning – it doesn’t taste as good as it sounds! So I recommend either disguising it in juices and smoothies or taking it in capsule or tablet form. After a few weeks I promise you’ll be jumping over rainbows!

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. Check for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.

By Nicky Flood